Oh Dear God, they\’re not that stupid are they?

But Labour will adopt one good policy. They will bring back rent controls.


Second only to aerial bombing in a major war as a successful method of reducing the available housing stock.

Doesn\’t anyone actually remember? The 70s, early 80s? When it was near impossible to find rental property anywhere in the country?

Who has proposed this and tell me, are they really this stupid?


I\’ve found out from Polly. Liam Byrne is about to propose it.

23 thoughts on “Oh Dear God, they\’re not that stupid are they?”

  1. Think of the children!

    A comment which is about as relevant as the idea that rent controls will make housing available.

    Tell me you made it up Tim or you will spoil my weekend

  2. Well, this is the usual thing. The State forces up prices, the State then promises to “control” prices. See also, inflation in the general.

  3. They could look to Sweden for a modern example. I’m not totally familiar with the situation myself but a friend of mine recently moved to Uppsala, where he found that state control over rent and house prices means finding somewhere to rent is extremely difficult – as soon as a new property is advertised there seems to be a desperate scramble of about 50 people trying to get the contract signed first!

  4. Sounds like the usual claptrap from Polly Toynbee. A quick search for “Labour Rent Control” only brings up Ken Livingstone wanting to bring it in. So because one of her favourite Labour persons is talking about it, Polly makes it sound like Labour party policy. So yes, she really is that stupid.

  5. “A quick search for “Labour Rent Control” only brings up Ken Livingstone wanting to bring it in.”

    Sounds about right.

    It was doing the rounds on Twitter yesterday that one of his policy promises should Londoners be so damned stupid as to elect him Mayor is to reverse the ‘no drinking on the Tube’ ruling. A burning injustice that’s foremost in the minds of London commuters, I’m sure you’ll agree….

    I can only think he must be going for the ‘drunken old tramp’ vote this time round.

  6. I had a lengthy debate recently with someone defending the Dutch rent control / public housing system. Naturally this person was in a controlled rental, and had a huge house for around 600 euros a month. The gist of his position was that all Dutch people love it and it’s great and the EU should stop meddling in it and trying to move it to a market rent system. I asked how long it would take me to get a flat, any flat, in or near Amsterdam. Two years appears to be the average waiting time if you aren’t too picky. Alternatively I can rent a “luxury” apartment outside the controlled/public system if I have several thousand euros a month to spare. Otherwise, it’s wait and take what you’re given.

  7. Serf said it.

    Destroy the private rental sector, then claim that we therefore need lots of new council houses.

    For a socialist politician, that’s a good result.

  8. Rob (#8) – probably not a problem in Holland, since its so tiny. The whole place is just Amsterdam’s commuter belt.

  9. Rent control is the dream of the middle classes. They capture the housing allocation process and they grab top class properties for peanut rents, and they are in them forever.

    No wonder Polly & Co love it.

  10. “Doesn’t anyone actually remember? The 70s, early 80s? When it was near impossible to find rental property anywhere in the country?”

    Well, curiously enough, someone who should remember Rent Control days is the Maid of Tuscany herself, Polly Toynbee.
    Back end of the 60’s she was orbiting round the Kensington & Chelsea scene. Think I may even remember her vaguely. Now of course Polly & her closest associates, shielded as they were by family money & influence, wouldn’t have had to confront the problems of finding accommodation. She did however regularly stray across Ladbroke Grove to slum with the less fortunate in the Notting Hill as it was before Conservative cabinet ministers colonised it. Would have seen at first hand what happens when the only places it’s possible to rent fall outside the remit of rent controls or are let in contravention of almost every housing regulation in the book. Places that people are obliged to rent because there’s simply no alternative. Bedsits, 12 to a house with one filthy shared bathroom & toilet. Gas fires that would asphyxiate the user if they could manage to feed shillings into the coin-slot fast enough. Rooms divided by partitions so thin, you could chat with the tenant next door without raising your voice. The ever present knowledge that you’re only a week away from eviction from this paradise on earth should your caring landlord wish to see the back of you.

    This was, of course, the period when she was ‘living with the people’. Gathering experience for her first & seminal book; A Working Life (oddly categorised as non-fiction in most book lists).

    Odd she never noticed.

  11. Rent control was great. You wanted a cheap house in a good area? Buy one with a sitting tenant and wait for him/her to die then move in. Simples. Then just wait for rent control to be abolished and watch your house’s value rocket! Also known as How My Parents’ Generation Got Their Wealth.

  12. David Lammy suggested it on QT last night. As anyone who remembers his well-intentioned but disastrous performance on celeb Mastermind will agree, he is very, very, stupid.

    My favourite moment was, when asked the surname of the couple awarded a Nobel for their work in radioactivity, and prompted with the surname ‘Marie’, he answered ‘Antoinette’.

  13. We already have a de facto rent control. It’s what the DHSS will pay in housing benefit in any given area of the country.

  14. Rent control results in landlords not being able to afford to maintain the properties properly out of the controlled rent of 19s 3d per week. Which is we had such massive slum clearance programmes in the 1950s.
    Of course, young Tim may not remember those as well as I do …

  15. We already have a de facto rent control. It’s what the DHSS will pay in housing benefit in any given area of the country.

    Doesn’t it work the other way round? ‘They’ look at the local rental market and set “Local Housing Allowance” limits on that basis. My lot cap benefit at 4 beds but you can still get up to £750 a month.

  16. The problem is, we don’t have a free market anyway due to the combination of land strangulation via the Planning Acts, and inflationary mortgage lending. Rents are thus well above idealised free market levels (Ricardo he say, “the rentiers, they are teh winners!”) but the actual solution is to crash property prices by freeing the land, which won’t be allowed by all those Shire Communists in Middle England, wherever that is, singing “Keep The Green Flag Flying” as they invoke romanticist nonsense about the bluebell wood.

  17. Otherwise, it’s wait and take what you’re given.

    For those proposing rest controls that is a feature, USP even, not a bug as they will be the ones giving (to themselves mostly).

  18. I would like to take issue here with this idea that landlords are creaming it from the DHS. I own a number of rental properties in a working class area of Liverpool, they are above local average in quality. I have only one DHS tenant who actually pays about 80% of what all the others pay and I only accepted the tenancy as I would be assured of regular payment, the previous private tenant having bilked me for 6 months rent before I could get her evicted.

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